Ray Buursma: A visit to Family Central bookstore – HollandSentinel.com

The organizations have been out of the limelight for awhile, but the opening of a Holland bookstore has relit the lanterns shining on Focus On The Family and Family Research Council.
Focus On The Family is an American fundamentalist Christian organization that promotes social conservative views on public policy. Family Research Council is an American fundamentalist activist group with an affiliated lobbying organization. At least that’s how Wikipedia defines them.
For decades, James Dobson and company focused little on the family and much more on homosexuality. Week after week, month after month and year after year, homosexuals were lambasted, assailed, castigated, denounced, scourged, thrashed, lied about, and raked over the coals, all in the name of Christian charity.
Love was their motive, Dobson and others claimed, but I didn’t believe them. I thought their stance was cruel, dehumanizing, ignorant and anything but Christ-like. I was not acquainted with any homosexuals at the time (to my knowledge anyway), but I felt shame and indignation for the way members of my faith portrayed and addressed gays and lesbians.
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As time passed, culture changed. Homosexuality was better understood. It became tolerated and then somewhat accepted, perhaps because of scientific understanding, greater tolerance for diversity, or because gays and lesbians chose to “come out” more often. Maybe a combination of these factors was the cause. 
Bit by bit, FOTF and FRC shifted their target away from the same sex attracted. If you compare issues on their websites of today with those of a decade ago, you’ll see the subject is broached much less often. That’s good, for homosexuals are entitled to every bit of dignity, equality, and worth to which heterosexuals are entitled.
But the cuts inflicted by FOTH and FRC run deep, and the scars remain.
So when Family Central, a bookstore owned by Focus On The Family, opened its doors in downtown Holland, reactions were mixed. Some were delighted. Others were troubled, even angry, and rightfully so. Those who had been hurt, or whose family members had been hurt, by decades-long attacks cannot quickly forgive and forget — especially since these organizations neither apologized nor changed their views concerning homosexuality. Rather, they focus on homosexuality to a much lesser degree.
After reading several letters and articles in The Sentinel concerning Family Central, I decided to investigate the store. Here’s what I found.
When entering, the store has a warm, airy feel. There is plenty of space, and browsing is easy. Many of the items for sale — signs, mugs, knickknacks, etc. — testify to the store’s Christian affiliation.
The store has roughly 40 sections. Most feature books, but a few contain computer or video media while others offer plaques, cups, handbags, and the like. 
I started exploring.
The sections are topical — adult fiction, teen fiction, children’s story books, religious history, parenting, love and marriage, divorce, Bible study, and so on. I did not skim through any books, but based on their titles, many could benefit Christians in their lives and relationships. That’s a good thing.
But I had another purpose — to learn whether Family Central sold books concerning homosexuality, and if so, how those books addressed the issue.
I found the section devoted to cultural topics and was surprised by its small size. I had expected more books devoted to social and political issues.
The books covered a variety of topics. I was familiar with a few of the titles, but not many. Some suggested a conservative viewpoint, not unexpected considering the store’s sponsor. Only a few addressed homosexuality. I expected many but found only a dearth.
I spotted only one title that caused me concern. I believe it read, “Hope For The Same Sex Attracted.” The book’s title suggests that homosexuals are oddballs who need fixing. I don’t believe that at all.  
I expected to find more books critical of homosexuals, but I didn’t. I’m happy for that.
Of course, those who have been hurt by the teachings of FOTF and FRC still feel anger and disdain. That’s completely understandable. I share those feelings. How dare these organizations demean a segment of society which hurts no one but is merely different? How dare they create ongoing psychological torment for homosexuals and family members?
But today I’m reporting what I observed. Family Central is better than I expected, and I hope that’s a sign of positive change.
— Community Columnist Ray Buursma is a resident of Holland. Contact him at [email protected]

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